Archive for the ‘ Recaps ’ Category

The Top 10 Most Popular Dadabase Articles of 2011

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

13 months.

As a “daddy blogger” who sketches out writing topics on a nearly hourly basis, I am constantly trying to predict which topics are not only interesting enough to me, but also the ones that will resonate with the people I don’t even know.

Since my daddy blog, dad from day one, was picked up by Parents.com in May 2011 and rebooted as The Dadabase, I have been keeping a close eye on which posts became the most popular.

Ultimately, I am always “taking requests” based on what topics people tend to enjoy reading about.

Specifically, I know now that any time I mention a TV show title or the word “vegetarian” or I do some kind of countdown or list, more people are likely to read. But what else attracts readers here? Let’s find out right now, together.

#1 The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin- No matter how passionate your stance on abortion, there’s definitely something unnerving about finding out you are a twin, but that your sibling was selectively aborted while you were chosen to survive.

#2 The Three Types of 30 Year Old Parents- Thirty is the new 23. I admit in this one that while I got to see more of the world in my 20′s, I am a less mature first time dad at age 30.

#3 Positively Communicating to My Seven Month Old Son- I realized my ability to truly polarize an audience when I suggested it’s uncool to jokingly offer to give your kids away to strangers. There is a 100% chance you’ll either totally love or hate this one- no in between.

#4 Gradually, Not Instantly, Falling in Love with My Son- And I believed I was weird to think this way. I love it when random strangers help make me think I’m actually normal.

#5 5 Reasons This Dad Despises MTV’s 16 and Pregnant- I could have easily given more reasons, but I try to keep my articles in the neighborhood of only 400 words. Hmm… maybe I should do a sequel?

#6 The Positive Re-branding of Fatherhood- Sure, the sitcoms of the Nineties will always hold a special place in my heart; especially thanks to their enchanting theme songs. However, there was a major downside to them- the way most of them portrayed fathers.

#7 6 Things This Dad Got Wrong During Pregnancy- Despite the fact that’s it’s sort of my job to act like I know what I’m talking about as a writer, I’m often wrong. In fact, here’s looking back at 6 particular times I missed it.

#8 7 Things This Dad Stopped Caring About- I guess sometimes in life, lowered standards are excused; especially in the name of parenthood.

#9 How Not to Be “That Mom” or “That Dad”- In order to make sure you don’t become a stereotype, you have to be able to recognize one. Takes not being one to know one, right?

#10 Little Boys Live in Their Own Little World- To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure why this one made it to the Top 10; unless it’s because people get to see me back in 1991, wearing neon green suspenders? Probably not.

Tune in a year from now when I review the Top 10 of 2012. No, wait- actually, come back before that, like tomorrow.

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5 Reasons This Dad Despises Two and a Half Men

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

One year.

This is one time I’ll openly admit in the opening line that my opinion in this blog post is completely wrong and off-base, as evidenced by the general American population. The sitcom Two and a Half Men has ranked among the Top 20 programs each year since its premiere in 2003. In a New York Times article back in February of this year, it was tagged as “the biggest hit comedy of the past decade.”

So now I shall commit to the heresy of condemning America’s favorite sitcom. Here are the top 5 reasons I despise Two and a Half Men:

1) It serves as the epitome of idiotic stereotypes for men. Alan is a pathetic dork with no game. His son Jake is an uninspired underachiever. And of course Charlie is a sleazy womanizer. These aren’t men.

The show should be called Two and Half Men You Wouldn’t Actually Want to Associate with in Real Life. Or even better, 101 Ways to Be an A-Hole.

2) It objectifies women as either A) sexy and stupid or B) shrewd and non-sexual. At least the show negatively stereotypes both men and women. Therefore, since it is equally sexist for both genders, I guess that means that technically it’s not sexist at all: All the sexism just cancels itself out.

3) I don’t think it’s funny. How many times can I laugh about Charlie being a man whore, Alan not “getting lucky” despite his best efforts, or Jake passing gas when he is asked a question?

Calculating… I’ve been able to stomach about 5 episodes of the show throughout my lifetime. There are approximately 12 “jokes” per minute and each episode is about 23 minutes long. So after doing the math, I guess the answer is… about three times. One laugh for each time the show’s only three jokes were introduced to me, for the first time.

4) The success of the show has only encouraged Charlie Sheen’s real life bad behavior. Again, in real life if you knew a guy like Charlie (both the character and the actual person) you wouldn’t be laughing- you’d be disgusted or at least annoyed.

Well, he is a real person, and despite the fact his character has been killed off the show, the real Charlie is alive and well; and very, very rich. In 2010, he was earning nearly two million dollars an episode. Money well spent?

5) It carries no redeeming value. Scrubs was one of my favorite sitcoms of the past decade. Its main characters, men and women, often were silly and outrageous. Yet at the end of each episode, Zach Braff’s character summed up the life lesson to be learned with “Sometimes in life you have to be able to…”.

There is nothing to be learned in Two and Half Men. It’s an insult to my intelligence and to the very concept of what comedy is supposed to be.

Yes, I am a very old, bitter man who isn’t even cool enough to have Internet on my phone. What is all this talk about Angry Birds?

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Happy 1st Birthday to My Son, Jack-Man!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

One year old, today!

Exactly a year ago today, after 22 and half hours of “coaching” my wife in labor, which consisted of me proclaiming stock phrases like “Oh look, here’s the head!” for the final three hours of the delivery, along with, “Baby, I’m so proud of you!” my wife finally gave birth to our dark Mexican baby. I will always remember the way he was silently starving for air as soon as the doctor pulled him out. He looked so mad.

Granted, he eventually morphed into the Norwegian little boy we know today as “Jack-Man.”

A few weeks later we moved him to Alabama, suffered mutual unemployment, then singular employment but still couldn’t afford to pay the bills, Parents.com contacted me about switching my daddy blog “Dad from Day One” to their website and so The Dadabase was born, then we moved back to Nashville and got our old jobs back, we had to buy my wife a new (used) car, then tried to move back into our townhouse but realized there was serious water damage that destroyed part of our living room ceiling, and I guess that leads us to where we are today: Finally, we have sense of normalcy that we’ve been desperate for.

And Jack has been along for the ride the whole way through, both oblivious to the chaos and eager for more excitement.

I admit, I don’t exactly know how to act. I mean, everything’s actually going pretty well right now. We’re officially moved back into our home and made it ours again. And I’m nervous to even say it- what if I jinx it?

Wouldn’t this be such an appropriate time to learn, “Surprise! We’re having another baby!” For the record, that is not the case. All I mean is that I’m so accustomed to life being crazy with some kind of constant fiasco, that I almost expect some kind of shocking surprise like that.

Wow, we as parents, have survived our first year! Sure, it’s awesome that our son is now a year old; so cool. But seriously, we not only survived raising him thus far but we made it through a lot of wacko stuff since then.

We as a family have made it through; thank God. Going through a whirlwind year like this has surely left us with unsettled psychological issues that we need to sort out with Jason Seaver (the psychiatrist dad from Growing Pains) but until then, I’ll continue using my writings here on The Dadabase to serve as my own psychiatrist.

Oh yeah, and in the midst of all this, my wife and I both turned 30. What a year to turn 30!

Okay, back to my son… He’s a year old today! Happy Birthday Jack!

Man, I am so in love with him. He’s the best baby/puppy/robot/Ewok/Red Hot Chili Peppers fan/gummy bear I’ve ever had for a son.

I think we’re all gonna be okay.

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6 Things This Dad Got Wrong During Pregnancy

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Eleven months.

Above photo credit: www.joehendricks.com

Now that my son Jack is just days away from turning a year old, I’m having these flashbacks from when my wife was pregnant with him. I remember how people were constantly asking me about our plans for his delivery and postpartum care. Looking back now, I wish I would just kept my mouth shut.

My wife and I are planners. Sure, so much of life (especially when it comes to parenting!) is unpredictable; but still, we like to be able to take control of little we can in our lives. So we had plans on how Jack would be born and raised. But as John Lennon sang in “Beautiful Boy,” “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And that is exactly what happened in our case.

Life (our son) happened while we were busy making other plans. Here are the Top 6 plans that didn’t work out:

1) No epidural. We watched The Business of Being Born and wanted to do this thing as naturally as possible. We knew that statistically, a woman who is given an epidural has an increased chance of needing a C-section. So my wife decided (on her own) that she would not get an epidural unless it become absolutely necessarily.

After enduring 17 and a half hours of labor naturally, we were told that if my wife didn’t get an epidural, she would definitely have to have a C-section because she wouldn’t have enough strength to deliver him.

Five hours later, our son was born. In case you’re keeping up with the math, it was a 22 and half hour labor, only five of those hours being drug-induced. Just for the record, I could never have done that! That’s why I was born a man.

2) Breast milk only; no formula.  Jack was born tongue tied, so breast-feeding wasn’t much of an option because he couldn’t latch on properly. We did have his tongue clipped when he was three weeks old, but at that point we just decided to continue pumping and supplemented with Enfamil until he was nine weeks old; at which point we switched him entirely over to formula.

3) That he would be born early or on his due date.  I knew I had to be ready, so I was; as ready as I could be. All that anticipation caused me to actually think he would come out on time. But of course, though he was due on November 11th, he was born five days later on November 16th.

4) Cloth diapers. Yeah, that would have saved us a lot of money. But I guess we’re just not disciplined enough of parents to raise an exclusively cloth diaper wearing baby. They were too bulky, they leaked if they weren’t on just right, and they made Jack smell bad by the end of the day.

5) Co-sleeping. Mainly, Jack just didn’t want to. He fell asleep better in his Pack ‘N Play, so that’s what we let him do. I admit, I’m glad I was wrong about this one. Because it sure is nice that since being seven months old, he has slept 11 hours a night in a separate room down the hall. I love my Jack-Man, but I don’t think my bed is big enough for the both of us.

6) Pacifers. Evidently, Jack thinks that pacifers suck. He experimented with one for a brief amount of time, but ultimately, he couldn’t pretend enough to even care about having it. Granted, he has put his mouth on a whole lot of other stuff, including a closed water bottle, a pumpkin, and his own foot.

In the midst of planning this blog post, Shawn Brook Williams, one of the graphic designers for Comics Buyer’s Guide magazine, sent me a copy of his graphic novel, Five Pounds and Screaming. His comic book style novel covers those subtle and understated moments a dad goes through, from the realization of pregnancy up until the child’s first birthday. So that’s why reading Five Pounds and Screaming was so perfect in writing this post; it conveniently jogged my memory.

I feel that Shawn and I share a very similar perspective and narrative on fatherhood. The book doesn’t cover being a dad in the cliche ways that Eighties sitcoms typically did. His approach is fresh, original, charming, and warmly familiar.

One of the most memorable scenes in the book, for me, is when the protagonist brags to a supermarket cashier, “I’m a dad!” This stood out to me because I remember doing the same thing the first couple of weeks after Jack was born.

From the telling of the family of the pregnancy, to the anxieties of expecting, to the frustrations of breast feeding, to the child’s first birthday party, Five Pounds and Screaming is like an illustrated version of The Dadabase. In particular, I think the book would make a perfect (and fun) gift for any expecting or new dad.

In the tradition of mini book reviews here on The Dadabase, the first reader to A) leave a comment on this post requesting the book, and also B) send me an email with your mailing address to nickshell1983@hotmail, I will have the author mail you a free copy of the book.

*Congrats to Hannah W. from Dover, Delaware on winning this!

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Rise of the Dadmobile: The Chevy Traverse

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Eleven months.

Being chosen by General Motors as one of the eight “daddy bloggers” to visit their headquarters in Detroit reminded me of the 1971 movie musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; only I had a golden ticket inside the largest car manufacturer in the entire world. Also, I wouldn’t be accompanied by my previously bedridden Grandpa or meet any Oompa Loompas who would sing creepy songs.

If this were simply a tour of the production line, I wouldn’t have been so engaged. But instead, I was invited to check out how GM designs the Chevy Traverse.

How exactly do they figure out where to put the cup holders? How do they keep the cabin of the vehicle from being too noisy by the time it’s filled with kids and traveling 70 mph on the interstate? How do they simulate years of wear and tear on the vehicle’s seats?

3D Virtual Reality Technology

Instead of building a prototype costing thousands of dollars each time, GM now uses what is called The CAVE (Cave Automated Virtual Environment); basically it’s a small three walled room in which the proposed interior design on the vehicle is projected. The tester, wearing virtual reality glasses, is able to interact with the layout of the interior.

I was able try it out; it was very cool. Even though I knew there was nothing really there in front of me, I kept trying to grab the gear shifter and turn the steering wheel. With those high-tech glasses, it all seemed completely real.

Ultimately, by using The CAVE, the designers and engineers are able to test the functionality of the layout; answering questions like, “Will the gear shifter get in the way of the cup in the drink holder?” As for myself, I felt pretty rad getting to play around with what seemed like a state of the art video game system.

Experiments with Actual Kids

“Take Your Kids to Work Day” is a big deal at GM. By placing actual children into the Chevy Traverse, the engineers are able to see how children of all ages and size will function inside the vehicle:

Can a child in the third row see the dvd player if they are shorter than 4′ 6″? Can a 5 year-old girl step up into the vehicle, or does there need to be a handle to assist her? Will a Nintendo DS fit into the storage unit? How well does a McDonald’s cup fit into the cup holders?

I learned that the placement of cup holders actually plays a pretty important role when designing a child-friendly crossover SUV!

Environmental Squeak and Rattle Simulator

By using a “four-post shaker” (featured above), engineers are able to get a good idea of how the Traverse will perform and sound even on the toughest of terrains. It replicates a variety of road surface conditions as each side of the vehicle is suspended at different grades. I got to sit inside the Traverse while they did this test- it reminded me of a ride at Disney World for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (That was back in 1990, though.)

Validation Quality Overview

The Traverse is exercised for 8 hours a day on a special test track; enduring steel potholes (pictured above), extreme desert temperatures and blasting rain in GM’s “Parade of Punishment” tunnel, and run through a giant gutter of water that is two feet deep. (I could have ridden in the Traverse when this picture was taken, but I didn’t feel like getting out into the rain to run over a steel pothole.)

Seat Durability Testing

Basically, they have this huge weapon/machine that beats the heck out of the seats. When passengers sit down in a seat, they don’t perfectly place their butt directly down. Instead, they sort of scoot over the side of the seat, then settle into it; day after day, year after year. These seats have to last a long time; therefore, this heavy duty machine does the job of giving engineers an idea of how a seat will look 10 or 20 years from now.

So those are the highlights of what I got to see during my visit at the GM headquarters using my golden ticket. Pretty interesting (and slightly weird) stuff, right? They obviously go through a lot of trouble to make sure the Traverse is a quality family SUV, yet is still masculine enough for a man to drive his kids around in: There’s a reason the Traverse doesn’t have sliding doors, like a mini-van.

More importantly though, how does the Traverse hold up against the competition? I didn’t even know this until I started writing this post yesterday, two weeks after getting back from Detroit, but Parents Magazine’s parents.com website rated Traverse among its best family cars in 2010.

Stay tuned for my next trip to the GM Headquarters when I go back to shoot a commercial for the Traverse; as I have been appointed its official spokesman, representing the new demographic of real American dads driving dadmobiles. Just joking- but I think it’s darn good idea…


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